The impetus for this film comes from a personal reaction to President Donald Trump’s infamous campaign rhetoric about immigration and building the wall. As a first-generation American, I’ve felt Trump’s harsh words cut deep. What my immigrant mother showed me about America is what the new president claims is the root of our problems.
While in Tijuana, Mexico, I visited the border wall and was struck by the uncanny melancholy the stark divide emanates. I felt deterred by its ominous presence which seems to be the antithesis of American. In a land where we worship freedom, it seems unnatural to build walls rather than bridges.
The VR piece is designed to deliver an experience, much like the major news channels running Trump’s speeches, where the viewer is forcefully berated and bludgeoned by words of the wall. With the frame on Trump’s mouth, the viewer can’t escape the uncomfortable rhetoric and is forced into the sensational, faddish and unnecessary fervor for a southern border wall. The film is a direct reaction to Trump’s divisive plan that will squander precious tax dollars at an estimated $25 billion if built to the specifications set by Trump. That’s a $25 billion way to divide people and tell the rest of the world: “You’re not welcome here.”
That’s not the message my immigrant mother taught me about America.
The best way to experience the VR film is with headphones and a Google Cardboard (or any other head-mounted display). The film is rendered to provide a binaural audio experience to hear Trump’s speech reverberate around you and to be enveloped in the sounds of the sea in Tijuana. For the binaural audio experience, watch the film on Android or on a Chrome desktop browser. YouTube on iOS devices only renders audio in stereo.
This VR experience was a project for Stanford Journalism course, COMM 280, “Virtual Reality Journalism in the Public Sphere.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is an opinion piece. The views and opinions expressed in this video and post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect any official perspective of Peninsula Press or Stanford University.